A book by a Jewish author who struggled with depression and died last year is to be republished this autumn, with proceeds going to a mental health charity.
Striker Boy by Jonny Zucker will go on sale via Amazon from October, after the popular 49-year-old children’s author passed away last November.
The football series, which follows 13-year-old Nat Dixon as he tries to save his beloved club from relegation, was first published in 2010 and was Zucker’s most popular story.
The author, educator and father of three boys who lived in north London had been living with depression for years before its publication. He had received help from family and mental health charity Mind, which will now receive £1.40 from every book sold.
In recent years, the stigma of having a mental health problem has largely faded, as knowledge spreads that one-in-four people live with a mental health problem.
It is the largest killer of men under 50.
Zucker’s wife Fiona Starr, a psychologist, said: “Jonny was my best friend and soulmate. Even towards the end, when his flame was burning out, we managed to salvage deep moments of love and humour.”
She described how the author suffered from depression and anxiety for most of his adult life, especially when he was worried about his writing work, but said she noticed a distinct downward spiral two years before his death.
“It started to grow increasingly out of control,” she said. “His vision of his
world narrowed in on itself. Despite all the love and comfort that surrounded him, he was unreachable.”
Ivor Baddiel, who co-authored five books with Zucker, said: “There aren’t any silver linings when it comes to suicide, but if Jonny’s work can help raise awareness about depression, as well as bring enjoyment to many, many children, then at least that’s something.”
Zucker, who died just before his 50th birthday, had also been a primary school teacher, a sports coach and a stand-up comedian, and his biography notes that even at the age of 40, he had not given up hopes of playing for his beloved Arsenal.
Starr added: “The Striker Boy campaign gives me hope and comfort that his death wasn’t in vain, that even in death Jonny can still inspire thousands of children all over the world through his words.”